Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. His ministry was about as prophetic as he could get. And so was his dream. He had incredible ambition to think in the fifties and sixties that blacks might actually live as equals with whites. His dream has brought us a very long way, and yet paradoxically we still have sooooo far to go.
Agent X dreams too. I am not in the same league with Dr. King, but perhaps he was dreaming too small. Perhaps I am in league with Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17, but I want to be clear up front with you that I do not desire a pastor’s JOB. Rather, I would be very happy among the pastor’s flock if he just did the task God assigns him. Point being, I have no envy in my heart for the paid position I speak of here. But I do have dreams for it.
That said, I offer my dream here as somewhat of a target at which to aim – the bull’s eye for which the pastor should attempt, though he “miss the mark” as a sinful man. I too am a sinful man, so I say this not without grace extended for the pastor’s short-comings. But I say it sternly because the pastor doesn’t even attempt it!
I have no doubt my dream of church would appear to run the church right into the ground. And the church, of course, is the very body of Christ. We should honor it, cherish it, and hold great expectation from it. But we should not try to protect it. Jesus himself came in a flesh-body, and he drove it straight to a tomb via a Roman cross. It is the Spirit of God that empowers it to resurrection. It’s not the man Jesus protecting himself that makes it relevant. (Think of my recent post on “liabilities,” and consider the implications.)
I am a street prophet. I have gone to the streets countless times. I have spent the night on the cold ground in alleys, sticker patches, parking lots, city parks, under “No Trespassing” signs, in Tent City, and on church-house steps. I have laid there shivering for hours in the silent night looking at the stars through the bare tree branches talking to God. I have walked a mile in the shoes of the poor.
I did this as one sent from the ranks of the church that is locked up at night. Not sent by the leadership, the members, or any representative. No. Sent by God. And I lay there shivering, looking at the stars, and talking to God about the locked up church-house right there across the street from me.
I wondered about the hardness of heart that placed a lock there in the first place.
I wished I had a pastor out there on the ground with me. Just for one night! I am sure that pastor would have tales to tell for many a Sunday-sermon illustration. But none dared to come. And in fact, my experience seems to have alienated me from the rest of the body that meets in those locked doors.
I did not mean for that to happen. I really thought I could go there and report back. I really thought these Jesus-loving people would be interested in the experience. I really thought they would be glad that I did it on their behalf, and would seek wisdom I might offer them afterward.
And it is from that experience, and especially the cold reception my report back has earned me, that I dream of a pastorate daring to preach a really old message to his flock. A message of sharing the wealth – like Acts 2:44-45, a message of opening the door – like Matthew 25:35 or Revelation 3:20. And then implementing these messages into life-changing practice.
Can you imagine with me what it would look like if everyone at First Church next Sunday actually trusted Jesus with their whole livelihoods and sold off property, took the money and gave it to the church!
I am not talking about tithes, I am talking about REVOLUTION!
Suddenly, American capitalism would be meaningless to this group. They would have to really put their trust in Jesus and in each other after they became so deeply financially committed to getting along after that. And then I dream they go the next step and invite the poor (especially the homeless) to come share the massive influx of wealth the church suddenly finds in this message/mission.
I am sure the investment would run out soon. Then we would all be poor together. But you know what? If we could imagine ourselves doing this down at First Church next week, then perhaps the other churches could imagine it too. And in a town like Lubbock, if every Christian joined the revolution, the banks in this town would suddenly face going out of business.
Now, imagine for a moment that all the banks were facing extinction. At first they would try to tell themselves that we need them and just ride out the storm (you know “too big to fail?”), but once they caught on to the idea that none of the Christians in this town (85% profess the faith) cared if they went out of business, then those banks would be TRIPPING ALL OVER THEMSELVES TO GET YOU TO DO EVEN A DIME’S WORTH OF BUSINESS WITH THEM!
Now whose in the driver’s seat???
Yeah, we would all be poor together pretty quick, I’m sure. But once we all get there together, the definition will begin to change too. You must realize that all the wealth does not just evaporate into thin air. Every car, every house, every building, bridge, or factory is still there. The assets have not gone away at all. Only the wealth is rearranged – and arranged in a way that benefits us all.
The problem is that someone has to go first, and after that the next problem is that everyone else has to follow. But you see, Jesus has gone first (I Cor. 15:20), and it is up to us to follow. Still, no one has the faith to do it. But then no one seems to even be able to imagine it. Thus I have a dream. It is a prophet’s dream. And… thus I have a bone to pick with the pastors.
It’s as if the pastors are content to let the sheep scatter to the night. (Not the ones that pay a salary, the broken and lost ones – them (Ezekial 34, anyone?).) But a day is coming when God will lead his own sheep. Just like when Jesus showed up unexpectedly in Israel 2000 some-odd years ago.
Hey. Don’t you realize, we live in a world that when it was created was sooooooo good that humans lived in it naked (vulnerable beyond measure) and unafraid? This was the creature God made to bear his image. And in the course of the Bible’s unfolding story, we learn that image bearers can stop the sun in the sky, move mountains with a command, walk on water, and raise the dead.
That pastor of yours professes to believe this stuff, to believe it is relevant, and to be committed to a world-wide redemption where we have all of this and more again someday. His task is to help you as a flock imagine it and feed from it as he leads you there.
Question is: Why ain’t he doing that? Guess that is why you get a prophet.